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Nigerian market hit by twin blasts

Suspected Islamic extremists struck two state capitals in north eastern Nigeria, with twin blasts at a crowded market and the destruction of a police base.

Rescue workers were trying to evacuate the dead and injured from the Maiduguri market, the same one where two female suicide bombers killed at least 70 people a week ago, eyewitnesses said.

Police say it is too early to give a death toll in Maiduguri.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts but people blamed Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group that has carried out many attacks in a five-year insurgency that has killed thousands and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

In Damaturu, explosions and gunfire erupted before dawn causing some residents to flee into the bush and others to cower in their homes. Damaturu, the provincial capital of Yobe state, is some 85 miles west of Maiduguri, which is the capital of Borno state.

The Defence Ministry headquarters said a fighter jet was repelling the attackers. A helicopter gunship was hovering over the town.

The attacks on the two state capitals show an acceleration of the extremist violence in north eastern Nigeria.

Boko Haram, the West African nation's homegrown Islamic extremist group, has been striking with increased frequency and deadliness since the military declared the insurgents had agreed to a ceasefire in September.

On Friday, bomb blasts and gunfire killed more than 100 people praying at the main mosque in northern Kano, Nigeria's second largest city.

Boko Haram is holding cities and towns along Nigeria's north east border where it has declared an Islamic caliphate.

The extremists frequently attack moderate Muslims they accuse of collaborating with the secular government and are holding hundreds of hostages, including 219 schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok town.

There are fears they may be using some kidnapped girls as suicide bombers.

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